You think you know a place.
I thought I knew New Bedford. Southcoast town, whaling history, commercial fishing, yeah, yeah, I got it. And sure, that’s all true, but New Bedford is more – a lot more. It’s a city where art and artists aren’t just welcomed – they’re omnipresent. Murals and statues line the downtown (as do ever-changing exhibits). Music fills the street and seeps out of bars. Performances and concerts are a part of life, and food – how did it take me this long to get to the food? – reflects the town’s fishing heritage in intriguing new ways. A short drive from Boston, it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway, or the perfect stopover on your way to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.
Where to Stay:
New Bedford Harbor Hotel: This chic hotel is in the heart of downtown (walking distance to so many shops, restaurants and the waterfront). On the Friday we visited, they hosted a truly funky band playing in the lobby/bar – it was a blast to just walk downstairs for our entertainment! (222 Union Street; @nbhhotel)
Where to Eat:
The Black Whale: Located right on New Bedford’s working waterfront, The Black Whale boasts a large menu of favorites (lobster rolls, fish & chips, Portuguese clams), as well as innovative dishes, all of which celebrate New Bedford’s fisherman, catch, and culture. (106 MacArthur Drive; @theblackwhale)
Tia Maria’s European Cafe: This charming cafe, located on a picturesque cobblestone street, serves breakfast & lunch, as well as dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a super friendly place (I watched them greet numerous locals by name), with homemade desserts and a menu full of delicious items. Try the Shrimp Mozambique or the Chouriço Bombeiro! (42 N. Water Street; @tiamariascafe)
Cork Wine & Tapas: Mr. TBF & I agreed that we ate the best scallops of our lives at Cork Wine & Tapas. Chef Nicholas literally took scallops fresh off the boat down the street and seared them just-so. This was after the local cheeses and honey and killer wine selection. Location-wise, Cork is a great place to post up and people-watch. (90 Front Street; @corkwineandtapas)
DNB Burgers: Burgers and fries – is anything better? Well, yes. I see your fries and raise you poutine. And a delightfully messy, juicy, fresh burger that will cure whatever ails you. Great for brunch after a night out, lunch before a long walk, or dinner – to power you up for the rest of the night. (22 Elm Street, @dnb_burgers)
What to Do:
Buttonwood Park Zoo: Named one of the finest small zoos in the country, Buttonwood Park Zoo is a real treat. We visited during their Tails and Taps event but they have a full calendar of programs for all ages! My favorites: the elephants and the fennec fox. (425 Hawthorn Street; @buttonwoodparkzoo)
The Waterfront: Talk about eating local – New Bedford’s commercial fishing industry is front and center along the waterfront. Check out the fisherman hard at work, and keep an eye on where those fish are going – likely to some of the restaurants right across the street! Also: Did you know you can grab a ferry from New Bedford to the Vineyard, Nantucket or Cuttyhunk? (Waterfront; @portofnewbedford)
Whaling Museum: You might have heard that New Bedford was once a whaling hotspot; the Whaling Museum does recount those times, but also has a deep focus on whale preservation and ecology. Be sure to climb aboard the recreation of a whaling ship and set free your inner Sea Captain! (18 Johnny Cake Hill; @whalingmuseum)
Fort Taber & Beaches: A stroll around Ft. Taber not only gives you a great sense of history, you can also enjoy the beautiful ocean views. This is a delightful place for a picnic in the summer! (1000 Rodney French Blvd)
Art Walk / City Murals: The Seaport Art Walk just finished hosting “Wind”, and an exciting new exhibit is just around the corner. In the meantime, grab a coffee and stroll to to view the incredible murals all around downtown.
Festivals & Events: There are so many events and activities coming up – like a holiday stroll and tree lighting next weekend! Make sure to check out all the upcoming events around town. (@destnewbedford)
Where to Shop:
The Landing Co.: Unique gifts, handcrafted items from local artists and everything you need to celebrate your visit to New Bedford! (98 Front Street; @thelanding)
Brothers Artisanal: Hand-crafted jerky by award winning chefs – need I say more? Trust me when I say this makes a fantastic gift, and REALLY trust me when I say you need to go hang out at their shop, complete with games, a kids room, awesome graffiti art, and draft beers. (11 William Street; @brothersartisinal)
Calico: Where all the cool girls in town shop, Calico has a broad selection of hip items to wear on your night out – or just cruising around town. The ultra-friendly staff is just icing on a very sophisticated cake. (173 Union Street; @shopcalico)
This post is sponsored by Destination New Bedford. Opinions and recommendations are my own.
Kristen Uekermann, Contributing Writer
Photo credit: Boston Fashonista